What turns you on creatively?
A great story and the freedom to approach an assignment on my own terms.
What turns you off creatively?
Clients who operate out of fear.
What’s your dream photo assignment?
A commission to shoot whatever, wherever I believe is best to solve the assignment, along with the trust, support and resources to ensure success. Another way to put this: The dream assignment is to be hired for my eye and to shoot what I would be shooting anyway in my personal work.
If you could have dinner with an artist from any era, who would it be?
Picasso. The inspiration I take from him is not only his work, but also the passion and energy he brought and the way he constantly challenged himself as an artist to go further.
What’s your favorite photograph not taken by you?
So many: Cartier-Bresson’s Behind the Gare Saint-Lazare; Sebastião Salgado’s Serra Pelada; Elliott Erwitt’s California, 1955; Dennis Stock’s Miles Davis at Birdland; Gene Smith’s Guardia Civil and Minamata pieta; several by Mary Ellen Mark; Robert Capa—too many to list, such an impossible question.
What profession other than photographer would you like to attempt?
Formula 1 race-car driver. Failing that, I’d get the blues band back together.
What’s your favorite camera feature?
The amazing high-ISO sensitivity of the new Nikon FX-format image sensor in the D3 and D700. Shooting documentary work in natural light means the toughest challenge often is having enough light in the first place! I hate to use flash and end up handholding at low speeds wide-open while balancing on walls, tables or whatever. It’s shocking now to see files shot at ISO 6400 that show minimal noise and are quite beautiful. We now have a tool that allows almost unlimited opportunities to shoot in low or practically no light.
What’s your favorite Nikon product, and how does it help you create better pictures or help you compete as a professional photographer?
Without question, the new D700 is my new favorite gear. I need to travel light with equipment that can stand up to severe conditions and hard use. I like to keep things simple, but the range of astounding features this camera provides are there if I need them. I’m not romantic or precious about my cameras; they’re simply tools, and I’m ruthless in my expectations of dependability. The D700 has surpassed my expectations about its durability and dependability. There are so many factors in my personal and commercial work that create obstacles and complexity, and getting the picture often comes down to divine luck. As we all know, luck favors the prepared photographer. With this camera, I feel prepared for any and all challenges.